The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
Wednesday, Februaryv18, 2009 - 5A
Not just child's play
By ERIC CHIU from hostage negotiation to party
Daily Arts Writer escorts. The Actives regularly have
their memories wiped and get new
It has been six years since tele- personas for each job. But problems
vision writer and producer Joss start once Echo's erased memories
Whedon had a start to reemerge.
television show. *** To the show's credit, it manages
Though he has to maximize its premise's potential,
dabbled in a vari- Dolihouse fleshing out Echo and the world
ety of media out- of the Dollhouse. With shows like
lets since then Fridays at ABC's "Lost" and NBC's "Heroes"
- from comics to 9P.M. readilyemploying flashbacks, flash-
the online musi- FOX forwards and a variety of narrative
cal "Dr. Horri- tricks, the show's relative narrative
ble's Sing-Along Blog" - Whedon's simplicity in focusing only on Echo
last effort, 2002's "Firefly," ended might seem like a throwback, but it
badly enough to make him take a gives the show a chance to build an
sabbatical from the medium. But especially dense narrative.
fortunately for his legion of fans, Though the show relies on the
time heals most wounds. Bringing standard "case of the week" for-
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" alum- mat, with Echo being sent to cli-
nus Eliza Dushku with him, Whe- ents in different personas, it raises
don returns to television with his enough questions about Echo
latest show, "Dollhouse." and the origins of the Dollhouse
Whedon's work has always been to keep episodes interesting. It
known for its dense premises and moves at an unforgiving pace for
plot themes, ranging from sci-fi intermittent viewers, however,
westerns to supernatural noirs. because it builds narrative layers
Still, "Dollhouse" stands out as upon narrative layers with each
one of his most ambitiously plotted viewing. But Whedon constructs
shows. these threads skillfully enough
Dushku plays Echo, a member that it's hard to not to be interested
of a group known as Actives. The in seeing where they go.
Actives are controlled by a large Predictably, Dushku is the
corporation that keeps them in a highlight of the show. As some-
laboratory nicknaned the Doll- one changing personalities several
house and rents them out to buyers times in an episode, a less capable
for various high-end jobs ranging actress could easily push Echo into
camp territory. Dushku plays
Echo with the right touch, shifting
between her continually changing
personas without making the epi-
sodes feel like an extended Theater
Even with Dushku at the lead,
though, Echo's character doubles
as the show's biggest issue. Echo
and her problems within the Doll-
house are the anchor of the show
- while the pilot hints at her life
before becoming an Active, it's
touched on only briefly. Echo's abil-
ity to change completely from scene
to scene makes it hard to connect to
her as the show's protagonist, and
the show's emotional strength suf-
fers asa result.
Still, even with these problems,
fans of Whedon's past work will
find a lot to dig into in "Dollhouse."
heavily than it should. But within
these constraints, Whedon's intel-
ligent storytelling comes through
in a compelling, if inconsistent,
"You can run, you can hide, but you can't escape my love."
e Owen shines in a Jack Bauer and work outside of
, the law to bring the bank down.
ie International As outlandish as the plot sounds,
the film is surprisingly realistic
By KAVI PANDEY and straightforward. The nature
For the Daily of the IBBC's scheme is summed
up in a few concise lines of dia-
e Owen reportedly turned logue, using existing global affairs
the chance to play James like China's growing dominance
vhen Pierce and the never-ending tensions
n left the * between Israel and its neighbors.
dit'sagood Unlike most pursuit films, fol-
too, as 007 The lowing Louis and Eleanor as they
have taken chase the enemy through New
way from INteflatOdal York, Milan, Berlin and Istanbul is
onsuming At Showcase far from a painful task. Also, using
n classics and Quality16 bankers as villains in "The Inter-
ng "Chil- Columbia national" is hilariously relevant,
of Men." considering the current economic
)wen gets situation. Those who blame banks
ce to see what life as Bond like Bear Sterns for the financial
save been like in the globe- crisis will find it immensely sat-
g-thwiller "The Internation- isfying to see-Louis battle-greedy,
may not be as action-packed soulless CEOs.
antum of Solace," but "The Clive Owen does badassery bet-
ational" is a solid, consis- ter than anyone else, but it would be
ntrigning film. nice to see him tap into his acting
'movie followsInterpolagent talents a bit more. In "The Inter-
Salinger (Owen) and Man- national," his range of emotions is
Assistant District Attorney limited to grouchy, mildly pissed
r Whitman (Naomi Watts, off and dangerously enraged. It's
y Games") as they work to actually a good thing that Owen's
r the crooked activities of character isn't given much depth,
ernational Bank of Business as viewers would probably hurl if
edit, one of the most power- he was given a trite ulterior motive
iks in the world. Louis and to fight the bank along the lines of
w have linked the IBBC to "they killed my wife."
Iry list of nefarious crimes, Eleanor's character stands
ng everything from assas- alongside Louis for a substantial
ns to nuclear arms trade. part of the film, but she disappoint-
'ursuit naturally finds resis- ingly disappears for the final third
it the highest levels of gov- of the movie. Still, the filmmakers
nt, prompting Louis to pull should be commended for avoiding
the conventional route of creating a
romantic relationship for Louis and
Eleanor. It's refreshingto finally see
a platonic, professional relationship
between a man and woman that's
free of any sexual tension.
"The International" is not - as
the trailer wants people to think -
purely an action film. Louis is no
Jason Bourne; he's just an above-
average police officer. Director
Tom Tykwer ("Run, Lola, Run")
wisely limits the action in the film
to a single sequence, amplifying
its intensity. Viewers will have
to wait patiently, but they will be
rewarded with a gorgeously cho-
reographed shootout that takes
place in New York's Guggenheim
Museum. The camera stays tight
to Louis as he navigates through
shattering glass and screaming
civilians-.Blood spatters against-
the dizzying white spiral con-
struction of the museum. This
eye-popping battle is guaranteed
to linger in viewers' minds as one
of the greatest gunfights in recent
"The International" is a well-
made movie. It reaches a per-
fect pace, neither confusing nor
exhausting audiences. The Guggen-
heim shootout itself is worth the
price of admission. Tykwer made
a hard decision to avoid watering
down the film with countless car
chases and explosions, but in doing
so, risked finding a wide audience.
Sadly, more people are likely going
to see "Street Fighter: The Legend
of Chun Li" than this movie. They'll
be missing out.
"Dude. Where's our car?"
Sunny California in a band
ARTS IN BRIEF
By LOGAN LIGHT do that was a band like the Beach
For the Daily Boys."
Tracks like "Lovers Who
ch The Little Ones tonight Uncover" and "Face the Facts,"
Blind Pig while you still both fromthegroup'sfirstrelease,
because Sing Song, are prime examples
may not The Lile of the tambourine-shaking and
little for hand-clapping sound the group
Billed as Ones w/ offers. Morning Tide, their latest
fthe break- set effort, provides more tracks that
gh ats of would have fit right into the Sing
Los Ange- Dennen Song collection and are similarly
sed The 9p.m.Tonight tinted with a happy and vibrant
Ones are musical style.
eir way up The Bind Pig "You know, what I try to do is
heir infer- paint something positive for people
indie pop. to identify with. If it makes them
nced by groups like the happy, then we're doing our jobs,"
Boys and the Kinks, this Reyes said.
rnia quintet gives off an While The Little Ones' music
ing essence as sunny as the contains such a concentrated dose
ine of Southern California. of pep, it seems to come rather
ording to lead singer Ed naturally to them. According to
in a phone interview, the Reyes, the constant pep never
feels forced. "You know, you kind
of give it your all and you play
and everything's gonna be OK.
You know, the important part is
just going for it and not being too
concerned with, you know, little
things. That small stuff."
Still, this self-expressed casual-
ness is no detriment to the young
group; the group excel's at mak-
A little slice of
L.A. at the Pig
ing great pop, and Reyes's flip-
pancy is at supreme odds with the
band's bubbly energy. In a venue
as intimate as the Blind Pig, a Lit-
tle Ones show should be nothing
short of can't-miss.
March of the Zapotec/Holland
Ba Da Bing Records
Zach Condon, the mastermind behind Beirut, has
a habit of borrowing sounds from other cultures and
incorporating them into his own songs' DIY style. The
first Beirut album, Gulag Orkestar, featured a heavy
Eastern European influence, while the second, Fly-
ing Cup Club, had a more Parisian luster. March of the
Zapotec/Holland, Beirut's latest EP, maintains the cul-
ture-hopping trend with its distinct Mexican flavor.
Condon and his band recently took a trip to a small
village near Oaxaca, Mexico where they recorded a
good chunk of the EP, incorporating traditional Mexi-
can folk sounds into their own Balkan-tinged music.
While the first half of the EP contains these south-
of-the-border influences, the second half recalls Con-
don's early days as a solo musician with synth-poppy
electronic jams. As a whole, the EP is a pleasing fusion
of sounds from around the world that lives up to Con-
don's reputation for creating brilliant music.
Among the standout tracks is "The Concubine," fea-
turing a militaristic drum beat accompanied by a xylo-
phone and an unusually rhythmic accordion. Condon's
vocals soar softly above the music, creating a soothing
"La Llorana" is the best effort from the opening
half. It's inspired by a tragic Mexican legend of the
same name about a young woman who commits sui-
cide. Condon captures this tragedy beautifully, backed
by a 19-piece band from the Oaxaca area that gives the
song an authentic, folky Mexican feel.
March of Zapotec/Holland succeeds by blending
traditional earthy sounds with the artificial beats and
harmonies of electronic instruments, continuing Bei-
rut's tradition of producing innovative tunes for fans
and casual listeners alike.
L.A. atmosphere has had a seri-
ous effect on the group's music.
"You know, in L.A. it's obvi-
ously sunny. The weather is
always great and the great sun-
shine and beaches. You know
that's sort of just our musical
language," Reyes said. "We try
to infuse that into our music
because I think a lot of people
aren't doing that anymore. The
last band that did that or kind of
made some conscious effort to
for more information call 734/615-6449
The University of Michigan College of Literature,
Science, and the Arts presents a public
lecture and reception
Trade in your CARHART and NORTH FACE for
and... more classes?
In response to increased student demand,
the COLLEGE OF LITERATURE, SCIENCE, AND THE ARTS has expanded its
2009 spring/summer course offerings.
Sign-up for these new classes when registration begins in March.
Read more, including the list of new options, at www.lsa.umich.edu/lsa/newcourses.
Richard P. Mitchell
Professor of History
Wednesday, February 18, 2009